1. Exposition: Abandoned car, dirt road, collapsed
coat, single shoe on the shoulder. Her husband
memorizes the horses in the sky while police
detectives lift her fingerprints from the wheel
and the wind lifts the last of her perfume.
2. Countersubject: For days helicopters wheel
above the tire tracks, the police tape.
3. Episode: April 1957. Her father shook her
awake. Smoke from the stairwell, her brothers’
footsteps hard on the narrow steps, no
mother, no baby, repeating sirens down the
Philadelphia streets. And in the emergency
room, her father held her hand for the last
time. Diagonal light. Ammonia and coffee cups.
There was nothing to read.
4. Middle entry: Two weeks later, the helicopters
fan the canyon, the hotel parking lot, the cliff,
the contents of her purse in the repeating tide.
A flotilla of lipsticks.
5. Example and analysis: In 1926, Agatha Christie
went missing for eleven days in the English
countryside. Empty car, strewn belongings.
They found her living in a hotel registered
under a different name. A vacation from
herself: no guns, no libretto.
6. Final entry: When they found her, there were
sonatas inside her head. They hummed
faintly, like static, like incoming weather, like
television. She didn’t know what they were.
The world was flat: a Nebraska road, the
horizon, a bed sheet.
7. Stretto: No, I didn’t mean it that way. She had
a glass of wine with dinner, sometimes a little
more. We were fine. Everything. Was. Fine.
8. False entry: At a gas station off the PCH
twenty-four miles north of Santa Barbara,
the night manager reported a woman fitting
her description buying coffee at 1:30 on the
morning of October 17. A man’s jacket, jeans,
pretty enough that he remembered: the
passenger seat, just change, thank you.
9. Coda: As he drove home to the city, down the
coast and then inland through the desert wind
farms and the geography of the moon, his
sirens mute, lights off, he thought: retrograde
amnesia, aphasia, maybe PTSD. He thought:
the headlights are a different color these days.
He thought: what if tomorrow I wake up and
I’m gone too.
Jan 25, 09:57 AMPurchase or Subscribe to Slake: Los Angeles
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